“Black No More”, a book by “12 Years a Slave” screenwriter John Ridley with music and music and lyrics by Roots’ Tariq Trotter, aka Black Thought, will finally hit the headlines.
The musical, originally scheduled to premiere in October 2020, was delayed due to the pandemic. production, from the new group, Now this winter will start.
George S. “Black No More,” based on Schuyler’s 1931 novel of the same name, will play a limited partnership at the Pershing Square Signature Center from January 11 to February 27, 2022. The opening night is scheduled for February 8.
“The music is beyond genre,” Trotter said in a phone interview. “But most of it sounds like black music. I think it’s drama, we can break it down and use it as an education in the origins and history of black music.”
“I didn’t feel like I was limited; I didn’t feel like I had to stick to the music of the day,” he continued. “I felt like we were able to tell the story, and make it a period piece in many ways. Could have made – without just writing jazz music.”
Schuyler’s satirical story, part of the Harlem Renaissance doctrine, follows the development of Black-Know-More, a scientific procedure for whitening dark skin created by Dr. Junius Krukman. (Trotter, in a theatrical debut, will also play Crookman on the show.)
The protagonist, Max Disher (Brandon Victor Dixon), decides to undergo the procedure after being turned down by a white woman for being Black. Meanwhile, Black-Know-More gained popularity across the country. The more black people make the transition, the more obvious the economic importance of racial segregation becomes.
“I thought it was mind-blowing,” Trotter said of Schuyler’s book. “I couldn’t believe that something of this caliber of science fiction and wit and something just dark humor and so many layers had been written when it was.”
In addition to Trotter and Dixon (“Hamilton”), the cast includes Jennifer Damiano (“Next to Normal”), Tamika Lawrence (“Rent”), Theo Stockman (“American Psycho”), Tracy Shayne (“Chicago”) and Walter Bobby. (“Chicago”). Rehearsals begin in November. Additional casting will be announced later.
The show will come from a Tony winning team: it will be directed by New Group’s founding artistic director, Scott Elliott; choreographed by Bill T. Jones; and has musical supervision, orchestral and vocal arrangements by Daryl Waters.
“There’s a very serious look that we need to take to move forward with the history and the story of this nation and the way it is told and will be told,” Trotter said. “It is my hope that this work and work like this will force people to continue to take that test.”